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‘Summer School’ (PG-13)

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
July 24, 1987

Here are some of "Summer School's" favorite things: idiocy, illiteracy, irresponsibility, drunkenness, dumbness and debauchery. Piqued?

While there are some yuks here and there, "Summer School" imparts -- unwittingly, one presumes -- an alarming set of underlying messages: Flunking out is cool. Learning's for dweebs. If you get knocked up, find the baby "a good home." Drink vodka on the beach. Insult your teacher. Wreck the car. Burn furniture. Just Say No to values. And civilization. And see "Summer School" again -- because you won't have remembered seeing it the first time. Director Carl Reiner -- who has stunning comic credentials ("Your Show of Shows," "The Dick Van Dyke Show," "The Man With Two Brains," "All of Me") -- apparently needs to see "Summer School" again, too.

Handsome, vacant Mark Harmon plays Freddy Shoop, a handsome, vacant gym teacher who goes sockless, shares peanut butter with his dog and surfs good (adverbs -- who needs 'em?). He also understands kids because they share his passion for sloth and underachievement. Assistant principal Phil Gills (Ssssssss!) blackmails Shoop into teaching the summer remedial English classes at Ocean Front High. (Guess which coast!) Shoop figures he can motivate the kids to pass their tests with laissez-faire, non-judgmental inactivity (and still gain the all-important tenure). Unfortunately, there's this cute teacher Robin Bishop (Kirstie Alley) next door with brains and academic standards (Ssssssssssss!) who has this weird thing for men who can read. And Gills, who's dating Bishop (incessant sssssss-ing), threatens to fire Shoop unless the kids pass their makeups. It's tough being a lowlife hunk.

Meet the class and laugh, laugh, laugh. Frank "Chainsaw" Gremp and his buddy Dave don't read, except maybe about horror effects. Rhonda Altobello is pregnant (the father is Sean Penn or David Lee Roth, she's not sure). Larry Kazamias sleeps a lot because he moonlights as a stripper. Denise Green talks dirty. Pam House is a dizzy blonde who likes surfing, handsome teachers and surfing. And -- wait! Come back . . .

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